Chatting with the Artist Who Turned Edward Snowden into a Mobile Sculpture
On Friday, October 10, Edward Snowden appeared in New York’s Union Square, though few recognized him at first. You couldn’t blame passersby for missing him—the nine-and-a-half-foot-tall, 200-pound sculpture of the world’s most famous whistle-blower didn’t have any distinguising marks; he was just a giant white man made of concrete hanging out in the park. In a moment too serendipitous to make up, the first person to clearly recognize the model of the controversial NSA document leaker was none other than Glenn Greenwald, who happened to be eating breakfast nearby.
"It was totally random—we didn’t tweet at him or anything," said artist Jim Dessicino, who created the statue and put it in Union Square as part of the Art in Odd Places Festival. I talked to the Delaware-based sculptor and MFA candidate the next day, as he was unloading the sculpture in the Meatpacking District. “I emailed him months ago about the sculpture, and he never got back to me.”
Is NSA Surveillance Mastermind Keith Alexander Selling US Secrets to Wall Street?
Perhaps you already assume that there’s some kind of twisted marriage between Wall Street megabanks and the US global surveillance regime. Why wouldn’t there be? But not even a total cynic could have anticipated spymaster Keith Alexander cashing in this hard, this fast.
As Bloomberg recently reported, the former National Security Agency chief, who resigned in March at the age of 62, quickly offered his cyber-security expertise at the eye-popping price of $1 million per month to an assortment of shady business lobbies. And now at least one member of Congress is probing this most delightfully dystopian of arrangements, raising the possibility that Alexander will be shamed out of the practice, if nothing else.
“Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony. I question how Mr. Alexander can provide any of the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods,” Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson wrote one of the business groups, the Security Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which holds it down for Wall Street in Washington. “Without the classified information that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.”
In an interview Monday, Grayson was even more strident in his criticism.
"Frankly, what the general is doing is beginning to resemble an extortion racket," he told me. "This is a man who basically lied for a living, and he continues to do that."
The FBI Is Trying to Recruit Muslims As Snitches by Putting Them on No-Fly Lists
Dr Rahinah Ibrahim is not a national security threat.
The federal government even said so.
It took a lawsuit that has stretched for eight years for the feds to yield that admission. It is one answer in a case that opened up many more questions: How did an innocent Malaysian architectural scholar remain on a terrorism no fly-list—effectively branded a terrorist—for years after a FBI paperwork screw up put her there? The answer to that question, to paraphrase a particularly hawkish former Secretary of Defense, may be unknowable.
Last week, there was a depressing development in the case. A judge’s decision was made public and it revealed that the White House has created at least one “secret exception” to the legal standard that federal authorities use to place people on such lists. This should trouble anyone who cares about niggling things like legal due process or the US Constitution. No one is clear what the exception is, because it’s secret—duh—meaning government is basically placing people on terror watchlists that can ruin their lives without explaining why or how they landed on those lists in the first place.
This flies in the face of what the government has told Congress and the American public. Previously, federal officials said that in order to land on one of these terror watchlists, someone has to meet a “reasonable suspicion standard.” That means there have to be clear facts supporting the government’s assertion that the individual in question is, you know, doing some terrorist shit. Which seems like a good idea.
But not any more, apparently.